Daily protests

Since mid-March, hundreds to two hundred Bosnians have been coming to Banja Luka’s main square every day at 6:00 p.m. to demand that the death be solved. David Dragičević disappeared on the night of March 17-18, before he had been seen in some bars. On March 24, he was found dead with numerous wounds in a sewer in the middle of the city. At the press conference of the authorities, which was called after the body was found, the wrong cause of death (an accident) was given, as well as contradicting information on how long Dragičević had been in the water. Dragičević was also criminalized: he was alleged to have committed a burglary that night and was also described by the authorities as a drug addict who took LSD. However, all these attempts to discredit the crime victim failed.

The protest movement was a disruptive factor for the powerful in the RS. Now the police have removed all artifacts from the demonstrators who have been standing in a central square in Banja Luka for months. Including photos of David and candles. Many Bosnian citizens are now taking to the streets to demonstrate against the arrest of Davor Dragičević – also in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo. In Banja Luka, the demonstrators were driven out by the police and are now in the yard of a church.

Multiple transfers

The intimidation against the demonstrators began weeks earlier. According to the NGO “Justice for David”, around ten people who had demonstrated in Banja Luka over the past few months for more rule of law were transferred, some to worse positions, and two were fired. Nine of them had worked in RS institutions. The fact that they had demonstrated was not mentioned as the reason for the transfer. However, it does not seem to be a coincidence that, after the elections, officials who are particularly committed are faced with transfers.

The Justice for David movement is one of the few civic initiatives in south-east Europe that require police and judicial reform. For months, however, neither the EU delegation nor individual EU countries supported the movement, even though the EU Commission made it clear in its strategy paper that Southeast Europe’s state structures were undermined by private or partisan interests. For the first time, the term “state capture” was used this year. Citizens in Southeast Europe suffer from the fact that one can buy expert opinions and judgments, that membership of a family or party is crucial, but not necessarily the law.

The EU delegation was now “deeply concerned” about the events in a statement. An immediate explanation was requested from the RS authorities. “The events in Banja Luka send out an alarming signal about the state of the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the statement said.